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the loftiness of some of Abel's mathematical 'superiors',
it is quite possible that he and Abel might have met.
Epoch-making as Abel's work in algebra was, it is over-
shadowed by his creation of a new branch of analysis. This, as
Legendre said, is Abel's 'time-outlasting monument'. If the
story of his life adds nothing to the splendour of his accom-
plishment it at least suggests what the world lost when he died.
It is a somewhat discouraging tale. Only Abel's unconquerable
cheerfulness and unyielding courage under the stress of poverty
and lack of encouragement from the mathematical princes of
his day lighten the story. He did, however, find one generous
friend in addition to Holmboe.
In June 1822 when Abel was nineteen, he completed his
required work at the University of Kristiania. Holmboe had
done everything possible to relieve the young man's poverty,
convincing his colleagues that they too should subscribe to
make it possible for Abel to continue his mathematical re-
searches. They were immensely proud of him but they were also
poor themselves. Abel quickly outgrew Sca.ndina.via. He longed
to visit France, then the mathematical queen of the world,
where he could meet his great peers (he was in a class far above
some of them, but he did not know it). He dreamed also of
touring Germany and meeting Gauss, the undisputed prince of
them all.
Abel's mathematical and astronomical friends persuaded the
University to appeal to the Norwegian Government to subsidize
the young man for a grand mathematical tour of Europe. To
impress the authorities with his worthiness, Abel submitted an
extensive memoir which, from its title, was probably connected
with the fields of his greatest fame. He himself thought highly
enough of it to believe its publication by the University would
bring Norway honour, and Abel's opinion of his own work,
never more than just, was probably as good as anyone's. Unfor-
tunately the University was having a severe financial struggle
of its own, and the memoir was finally lost. After undue deli-
beration the Government compromised - does any Government
ever do anything else? - and instead of doing the only sensible
thing, namely sending Abel at once to France and Germany,
M.M.—VOL.11.                                            B                                                       343